2015 May to Aug – Immigration News & Updates

August 12, 2015

Changes to Pre-Removal Risk Assessment for Burundi

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and updates ImmigrateIndividuals from Burundi may be eligible for Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) if they received a final decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) or a final PRRA decision on or between August 13, 2014 and August 12, 2015. Prior to removing them from Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will advise individuals from Burundi if they are now eligible to apply for PRRA.

Individuals from Burundi are exempted from the one-year ban on accessing a PRRA as conditions in that country have worsened. As a result, individuals could face a situation of risk that may warrant an additional assessment.

August 07, 2015

Canada, US, Mexico to Expand Trusted Traveller Programs

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Public Safety Canada, and the Secretariat of Governance of Mexico announced the planned expansion of the existing trusted traveller programs. This expansion is the first step toward the creation of a North American Trusted Traveller network and will be rolled out at the beginning of 2016.

The Agreement stipulates:

  • Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico’s Viajero Confiable program will be able to apply for the US – Canada NEXUS trusted traveller program
  • Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS will be able to apply for Viajero Confiable

US citizens are already eligible to apply for the NEXUS and Viajero Confiable trusted traveller programs through existing partnerships between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Public Safety Canada and Mexico’s National Institute of Migration.

August 01, 2015

Changes to Visa Requirements By Purpose of Entry

Effective August 1, 2015, changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) will:

  • require persons coming from the United States (U.S.) for immigration interviews at a U.S. Consulate in Canada to obtain a visa to enter Canada, unless they are otherwise exempt;
  • exempt from the visa requirement persons on flight rerouted to Canada due to an emergency; and
  • clarify the requirements for persons on flights en route to the U.S. that stop for refuelling to remain visa-exempt.

August 01, 2015

Temporary Resident Visa Requirement Lifted for Citizens of Poland or Lithuania

Effective August 1, 2015, paragraph 190(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) was amended to exempt all citizens of Poland and Lithuania from the temporary resident visa (TRV) requirement, regardless of travel document held.

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateExisting TRV holders (both single and multiple entry) who are citizens of Poland or Lithuania and have not yet travelled to Canada should be advised that they can continue with their travels as planned and must not remove or damage the counterfoil in their passport.

Citizens of Poland or Lithuania who hold a valid study or work permit on the coming into force of the amendments to the Regulations and are outside of Canada, do not require a TRV to return to Canada. They may continue to use their study or work permit according to the validity dates of the permit.

August 01, 2015

Voluntary Enrolment Period for Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization Requirements Starts Today

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and updates ImmigrateCanada has started phasing in its new entry requirement, known as Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air. Entry requirements for other modes of travel to Canada (land and sea) have not changed.

Starting today, citizens from countries other than the United States who do not normally need a visa to enter Canada can now go online and apply for their eTA ahead of the March 2016 mandatory enforcement date.

Applying for an eTA is a simple, inexpensive (CAD $7) and fast online process. In most cases, the eTA will be granted within minutes of an individual applying and the eTA will be valid for five years or until the traveller’s passport has expired, whichever comes first.

July 24, 2015

New Canada Investors Immigration Program Attracts Only Six Applicants

Canada has received just six applications for its pilot immigration program for millionaires, far fewer than for its investor class visa that was scrapped last year amid criticism it was allowing rich Chinese to buy their way into Canada.

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateCanada said in December it was looking for 50 wealthy foreigners to join the pilot run. Despite the low number, an official at Citizenship and Immigration department said the government would not consider going back to a program similar to the previous investor class visa.

Under the new program, would-be immigrants must invest a minimum of C$2 million in Canada for a 15-year period and must have a net worth of at least C$10 million. Among other criteria, they must also meet a new requirement that they speak English or French.

July 23, 2015

Denial of Appeals for “Safe Country” Refugees Deemed Unconstitutional by Canadian Court

The Federal Court has ruled that denying appeals to refugees from countries on Canada’s so-called “safe countries” list is unconstitutional. In a ruling Thursday, the court said Ottawa’s designation by country of origin or DCO discriminates against asylum seekers who come from countries on this list by denying them access to appeals.

“The distinction drawn between the procedural advantage now accorded to non-DCO refugee claimants and the disadvantage suffered by DCO refugee claimants . . . is discriminatory on its face,” wrote Justice Keith M. Boswell in a 118-page decision. “It also serves to further marginalize, prejudice, and stereotype refugee claimants from DCO countries which are generally considered safe and ‘non-refugee producing.’ “Moreover, it perpetuates a stereotype that refugee claimants from DCO countries are somehow queue-jumpers or ‘bogus’ claimants who only come here to take advantage of Canada’s refugee system and its generosity.”

It is yet another devastating hit to the Conservative government which recently also lost two cases on constitutional grounds over the ban of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and on health cuts for refugees. The government said it will appeal the decision and ask the court to set it aside while it is under appeal.

The latest court decision means all failed refugee claimants — whether from the government’s safe country list or not — are entitled to appeal negative asylum decisions at the Immigration and Refugee Board’s refugee appeal division or better known as the RAD.

In its defence, the government contended that it does not draw distinctions among claimants based on their national origin but rather whether they come from parts of the world that are generally safe. The government said the expedited processing for DCO claims, based on the relative safety, is legitimate and conforms to Canada’s international obligation. It explained that it limits the access to an appeal to the RAD only on the basis of a thorough assessment of the country conditions.

However, Justice Boswell rejected its arguments, concluding: “This is a denial of substantive equality to claimants from DCO countries based upon the national origin of such claimants.” He sent all three claims involved in the case to the refugee appeal tribunal for re-determination.

June 25, 2015

Live-In Caregiver 4 Year Wait to Bring Deaf Daughter to Canada is Over

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateA Filipina woman living in Canada says she’s “over the moon” after finally winning her four-year battle to allow her deaf 14-year-old daughter to join her in Vancouver. Karen Talosig’s four-year-old application to bring her daughter Jazmine to Canada had been on hold pending a medical review.

Jazmine, an honour student at a school for the deaf in the Philippines, was seen as a possible burden to Canadian taxpayers.

Talosig was a widow when she came to Canada seven years ago on the Live-in Caregiver Program. Her daughter, Jazmine, was six-years-old. Talosig lived in Vancouver, employed as a nanny, supporting her daughter from overseas. The 38-year-old applied for permanent residency in 2010 for both herself and Jazmine, who has been deaf since birth. That’s when their application stalled.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states under the Live-in Caregiver Program, a foreign national cannot be given permanent residency if he or she “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.” But Talosig, who worked three jobs, ​sending $1,000 back to her daughter every month, has pledged Jazmine will never be a cost to Canadian taxpayers.

June 23, 2015

Canadian Passport Photo Specifications Changes

The revised passport photo specifications publication is now available online.

This edition includes two new requirements which will further guarantee the authenticity of the picture and its subject as well as increase the overall security of the Canadian passport. These requirements were introduced on May 9, 2015:

  • Photos with tinted eyeglasses are unacceptable.
  • Photos are now valid for six months only from the date they were taken.

June 19, 2015

Harper Government Introduces Oath of Citizenship Act

Today, the Government of Canada introduced the Oath of Citizenship Act, to ensure Canadian citizenship applicants show their face while taking the Oath of Citizenship during citizenship ceremonies.

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateThe Oath of Citizenship Act will ensure that candidates are seen and heard reciting the Oath in community with others, to confirm their commitment as new citizens to Canada’s laws, values and traditions.

Swearing or affirming the Oath is a legal requirement, a public declaration that a citizenship applicant is committed to adopting and upholding Canadian values. The Oath of Citizenship Act will require that the Oath be sworn or affirmed publicly and openly, and in a way that others can verify: aloud and with face uncovered.

June 11, 2015

Change to Minimum Age Needed to Sponsor Spouses, Common-Law, and Conjugal Partners

Before June 10, 2015, a foreign national 16 years of age or older was eligible to immigrate to Canada as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner. This applied to all permanent and temporary resident programs.

A new regulatory amendment that will better protect against child, early, and forced marriage, and strengthen program integrity, comes into force today. This new regulation is in line with Canada’s stance against early and forced marriage and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory and which defines children as being persons under the age of 18. As of today, the Canadian sponsor must be at least 18 years of age.

June 05, 2015

Canada to Expand Biometric Data Collection

Great Canadian Gateway biometric Canada immigration news and updates immigrateThe federal government’s plan to increase its collection of biometric data from visitors to Canada has been met with concern, but the practice is already a large part of our day-to-day lives. Biometrics measure a person’s unique physiological characteristics — including face, iris, retinal veins, fingerprints, voice and hand geometry — to verify identity.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC News that digital photos and fingerprints are “the only biometrics data applicants will have to provide” under the government’s plan for expanded collection of data. Visitors will have to pay $85 to cover the cost of data collection.

The government currently collects the biometric data of foreign nationals from 29 countries and one territory. For an $85 fee, a visitor’s fingers are scanned on a glass screen and their digital photo is taken. Exemptions include those under 14 or over 80 years of age, as well as diplomats.

New regulations expected by 2018-19 would expand screening to include visitors from about 150 more countries, including those visitors who need visas, work or study permits. The government expects it will collect the biometric data of 2.9 million people per year under the new regulations. Americans are exempt.

June 05, 2015

Citizenship Act Reforms Coming Into Force Soon

A final suite of reforms to strengthen and modernize Canada’s citizenship laws will be fully in force as of June 11, 2015.

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateThe first set of provisions that came into force last summer to strengthen Canadian citizenship and speed up application processing times are already paying off. New citizenship applications are being finalized in a year or less, and it is expected that the backlog of older files will have been eliminated by the end of this fiscal year. Individuals who submitted a citizenship application before April 1, 2015 will have a decision by March 31, 2016.

Among the many benefits of the government’s citizenship reforms, the new provisions will deter citizens of convenience – those who become citizens for the sake of having a Canadian passport to return to Canada to access taxpayer-funded benefits that come with citizenship status, without having any attachment to Canada, or contributing to the economy.

Key changes include (in force June 11, 2015):

  • Adult applicants must now be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application, and they must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of four calendar years within the qualifying period. This is aimed at ensuring that citizenship applicants develop a strong attachment to Canada.
  • Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements. This is aimed at ensuring that more new citizens are better prepared for life in Canada.
  • Citizenship will be automatically extended to additional “Lost Canadians” on June 11th, who were born before 1947, and did not become citizens on January 1, 1947 when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect. This will also apply to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
  • Adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they become citizens and meet their personal income tax obligations in order to be eligible for citizenship.
  • To help improve program integrity, there are now stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison). This is aimed at deterring unscrupulous applicants who are prepared to misrepresent themselves, or advise others to do so.
  • The newly-designated Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the new regulatory body for citizenship consultants. Only members of the ICCRC, lawyers or notaries (including paralegals and students at law) can be paid to provide citizenship applicants with representation or advice.
  • New application forms, aligned with the new rules for eligibility, will be available on the CIC website as of June 11, 2015. Any applications received using the old forms received after June 10, 2015 will be returned to the applicant.

May 29, 2015

Start-Up Visa Program Launches Six New Companies in Canada

The Start-up Visa Program is helping to spur entrepreneurialism and create economic growth across the country and in a variety of industries. Successful applicants and their companies will be based in Toronto, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Vancouver and Victoria.

Since the launch of the program, 16 principal applicants have been approved for permanent residency, helping launch and grow eight companies. There are currently nearly 60 applications at various stages of the process.

The new permanent residents (PR) supported by TBDC include Nick Back, who is originally from the United Kingdom and has launched Physicool Canada with Canadian business partner Dr. Joe Chiodo, as well as Shankar Raventhiran, Anand Suriyanarayana Raja and Jaishankar Rajagopal, all originally from India, who are launching Green Anthem Foods.

May 29, 2015

Canada Welcomed Record Numbers From China in 2014

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, marked the finale of Asian Heritage Month by announcing at Markham’s Sino-Canada Educational and Cultural Festival that Canada welcomed nearly 361,000 visitors from China in 2014 – up 34 percent from the previous year.

In Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates Immigrateaddition to temporary resident visas, nearly 25,000 people from China became permanent residents in 2014. Canada also welcomed a record 65,600 students from China in 2014.

Nearly 94 percent of visitors in 2014 received a Multiple Entry Visa (MEV), which allows visitors to leave and return to Canada for six months at a time for up to 10 years. MEVs are a fast, flexible and convenient option for frequent visitors to Canada.

Canada offers many opportunities for Chinese travellers, skilled workers, students and business people, including the recently announced Can-plus program in China, which will help build on the growth seen from Asia’s large market and economy.

In order to facilitate deeper trade and travel ties for Chinese visitors to Canada, a new visa office will be opening in Guangzhou this summer, further expanding CIC’s presence in China.

May 29, 2015

Canada Now Able to Revoke Citizenship of Dual Citizens Convicted of Terrorism

Measures came into force officially today that enable Canada to revoke citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism, treason and high treason, and/or spying for foreign governments.

Canadian citizenship can now also be revoked from dual citizens for taking up arms against Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, whether as a member of a foreign Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates Immigratearmy or in non-state terrorist groups like ISIS.

Also officially in force as of today is a new, more streamlined citizenship revocation process. This new process will help ensure Canada and Canadians are protected, and that revocation decisions can be made quickly, decisively and fairly.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials will be implementing these new measures immediately and will prioritize cases that have been tried and convicted here in Canada on at least one of the grave crimes listed above.

May 28, 2015

Matchmaker of Bogus Marriages Gets House Arrest

She was a matchmaker of bogus marriages; a mastermind wedding planner of immigration fraud.

Wei Ren, Great Canadian Gateway Immigrate Canada Immigration News and Updatesaka Christine Ren and Christine Molson, wept as she was sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest for orchestrating an elaborate scheme where 130 Chinese students paid her $35,000 each for marriage to a Canadian sponsor, complete with photos, hired actors and rented wedding attire, in a bid to stay here as permanent residents.

Originally from China, Ren became a successful real estate agent whose Chinese clients often asked for immigration help. Soon the mother of three had turned her advice into a lucrative venture that spanned seven years. By the time the Canadian Border Services Agency grew suspicious and mounted Project Honeymoon, the permanent residency applications of 130 Chinese students were linked to Ren’s marriage of convenience factory.

She left court in the company of her husband, David Molson of the famous brewery dynasty. It seems they have a lot in common and theirs is no marriage of convenience: Molson is a convicted mortgage fraudster who agreed to surrender his licence last year to practise law.

May 19, 2015

Super Visa Hits Major Milestone

Over 50,000 of the popular Parent and Grandparent Super Visas have been issued since its December 2011 launch, as part of Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.

Great Canadian Gateway Immigrate Canada Immigration News and UpdatesThis multiple-entry visa is valid for up to 10 years and provides parents and grandparents with the flexibility of being able to visit family in Canada for up to two years without needing to renew their status.

May 19, 2015

Canada Expands the China Transit Program

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced at the Vancouver International Airport the expansion of the China Transit Program (CTP). This program allows eligible Chinese travellers to fly to and transit through Canada visa-free when they are en route to and from the United States.

Starting June 1, 2015, the program will expand to three additional major transit hubs – Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, and Seoul Incheon, which are in addition to Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Manila and Taipei that are already part of the program.

This Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates Canadian Immigration News and Updatesexpansion means more choice and greater flexibility for eligible Chinese travellers to transit through Canada, and more business for participating airlines and Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International Airports, including additional revenue for airports through landing fees and spending by travellers.

As part of today’s announcement, the Government is also simplifying the administrative process by which new airlines can participate in the China Transit Program. This change will make it easier for airlines to carry eligible Chinese transit passengers through Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International Airports.

The Government of Canada is committed to the expansion of transit programs and is assessing the eligibility of other departure cities in China to be added in the future. Consultations with the air and tourism industries are ongoing as the government explores new opportunities for facilitating transit passengers through Canadian airports, particularly once the new Electronic Travel Authorization system is implemented next year.

May 12, 2015

Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act

The Harper Government remains committed to keeping our streets and communities safe for Canadian families. The measures announced today will streamline the removal of foreign nationals who commit serious crimes in Canada, allow for the mandatory transfer of foreign criminals back to their country of origin, and render foreign criminals ineligible for a record of suspension. This will ensure more effective removals of foreign criminals from Canada.

This Bill would remove those barriers to allow quicker removals of foreign nationals and the transfer of foreign criminals who commit serious crimes in Canada by:

  • making all foreign nationals, and some permanent residents sentenced to more than six months for a serious crime in Canada, ineligible for a record suspension;
  • amending the International Transfer of Offenders Act to allow in domestic legislation the capacity for Canada to transfer a criminal without their consent where provided for under the terms of a future treaty;
  • expanding the authority of the Minister’s Delegate to allow the Delegate to issue removal orders to permanent residents who are inadmissible for serious offences committed in Canada, thereby eliminating an admissibility hearing before the ID. This Bill will also empower foreign nationals who concede to being inadmissible to waive the admissibility hearing and request that the ID of the Immigration Refugee Board issue a removal order; and
  • revoking protected person status as a result of a danger opinion decision and allowing protected persons to voluntarily renounce their status. This would also prevent them from accessing benefits from Canada.

May 08, 2015

Philippines—Top Source Country for Permanent Residents to Canada in 2014

Canada welcGreat Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration Canadian Immigration News and Updatesomed more than 40,000 permanent residents from the Philippines in 2014—up over 30 percent from 2013, making the Philippines Canada’s top source country for permanent residents last year.

During the state visit to Canada by Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines, from May 7–9, 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to Canada’s strong people-to-people ties with the Philippines.

Canada also issued nearly 47,000 visitor visas to Filipinos in 2014. This figure represents a 56 percent increase since 2006.

Immigration is a key element of Canadian culture. Since 2010, Canada has welcomed an average of more than 260,000 permanent residents each year. The Filipino community makes up a large part of our overall immigration and the government celebrates the many contributions that Filipino Canadians make to Canada.